Where to homestead?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Susie13, Feb 5, 2004.

  1. Susie13

    Susie13 Guest

    Hello everyone! We are new to the homesteading idea and while we always think about moving( we live in the high Rockies and it is COLD) we don't know where the best place to move would be. We are looking for some land(not too expensive) water, garden spot and nice climate. Any ideas? Where is the best place?

    Susie 13
  2. TXlightningbug

    TXlightningbug Well-Known Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Hi, Susie 13, I'm new to the idea too, but I have really fallen in love with it. I live in Texas with relatives in the west and in the east. I'll tell you now that, while West Texas has it's own beauty, I would not live there because of the oil industry. My grandma's water well became contaminated with oil because of the method used to extract more oil from dying wells. They inject hot water into the wells to force more oil to the surface. This causes leaching into the water table. It is used wherever there are oil wells, including in Southeast Texas and Louisiana. Beautiful land, but the water is likely to be unusable for drinking or irrigation.
    Personally, I am looking at a small region of East Texas framed by the Red River, Arkansas and back towards Rockwall County. I am also looking at the southwest corner of Arkansas. It snows at least once each winter in that area, but not to the extent that it breaks your back to shovel it. And you only shovel if you want to, not because you need to. It is a generally rolling landscape, has some great prices on the land and the weather is usually wonderful. Some people might object to tornadoes, but that just requires listening to the weather and having a tornado shelter or root cellar. Nothing shaky like mobile homes either. Those are death traps.
    There is another poster here, East Texas Pine something, he lives in East Texas where the soil is acidic enough for azaleas and pines and the like. He's in some of the posts about planting grapevines. You might want to contact him to see what he thinks of his neck of the woods. Judi

  3. Hammer

    Hammer Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    N. Ga.
    I like Tenn. I am in Ga. now which has a nice climate but it is getting crowded and expensive here. I have been looking at land prices in Tenn. and they are fairly cheap. I will say parts of Ark and Ky are nice too, as far as cheap and mild climate.
  4. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    Remember though here in the South, we tend to be intolerant of outsiders and have toxic waste dumps and nuclear storage facilities in our area. All of which contribute to our cheap property values.
  5. Sedition

    Sedition Well-Known Member

    May 30, 2003
    Holy negative attitudes Batman!

    It’s not like me to be sun-shiney, but I’ll be contrarian as usual at least.

    I see this question a lot, and there is good advice and bad advice on the issue. My opinion is thus:

    1) For young families, Live near (your best) family! It doesn’t matter where they are, just be close by. This is rule #1. I have three good families within 60 minutes of my house. I’ve never needed a baby sitter, the grandma’s argue over who gets to watch my kid’s next! I need help this weekend moving a cast iron tub, so I called my dad. My Kitchenaid broke, I called my brother the Su-Chef. My computer broke, I called my brother-in-law, an Electrical Engineer. My father is a master plumber, my step-dad an draftsman engineer, amateur carpenter and woodworker. I give financial advice and do everybody’s taxes. We SAVE so much money by helping each other out, that it worth thousands of dollars a year just being close to each other.
    2) Also for young families, live near a hospital. Nothing makes you hate yourself more than losing a child or a wife (or yourself) because you made a bad decision. I’m all for natural child birthing, both of my children were natural, without mom having a drop of anything. But they were also born in the hospital (under the care of a midwife) just in case something went wrong.
    3) Live where this is “abundant” water. You want access to at least 2,000 gallons a week, year in, year out. Either a deep well, running brook, spring on your land, or good rainfall and home cistern. Do not rely on the government to provide the 2nd most important thing to survival (after O2).
    4) Live near your church. Whatever religion you are, find a church/tabernacle/synagogue/mosque you like. Churches are like families, they are a community of like minded folk who will help each other out.
    5) Live where you like the weather. Some folk hate the cold. I hate hot weather. You can only take so many clothes off, you can always put one more sweatshirt on.
    6) Live near folk like yourself.
    7) Live where you can work. Life throws lots of curveballs. I’ve got lots of anecdotal evidence to that one. Best laid plans will go awry, but even with a terminal illness, you can go back to work. Trust me.

    As for specifically where? Without considering rule #1 up above.

    I like the Ozarks, western Wisconsin, and coastal Alaska. I would not live near any major cities. With Bush spending my children’s money on a $500 billion dollar pork deficit, we are going to witness another Great Depression soon enough. And I don’t want gang-bangers stealing chickens.

    I live in central Iowa. I’m about 40 miles from Des Moines, where jobs in construction and the financial industry are plentiful. Hospitals are good here, the state has a lot of young children, and a lot of retired grandmothers – so crime is low, and schools are good. I average 38 inches of rain a year, and when I finish my new cistern it will hold 10,000 gallons – a 3 month supply, augmented by a solar powered and hand driven sand point well on my 35’ water table.

    And I grew up here. I have lots of family to help as needed. My father moved to a condo, so he “rents” part of my garden. Land is fairly cheap, about $3k an acre for farmland and $2k for “sleugh” or wooded pasture to your foreigners. And that is darn fine land. I can grow excellent crops without any chemical soil additives, just an annual rotation.

    We have warts, a large meth industry, a gentrified population and an economy reliant on Fed.gov for handouts (social security and farm program payments are the #2 and #3 income sources here after salaries).
  6. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    Its true, not negative attitude, Ernest was burned out in the Ozarks and here we cold shoulder outsiders until they move on or 15 to 20 years whichever comes first. Most don't last over a year or two before they move on . If they can sweat out the 15 years, then we start warming up to them. Since the Army Depot in Anniston has started incinerating surplus nerve gas. immigrations are way down also :haha:
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Where can you make a living for a while?

    Unless you have a HUGE amount of money, you will need land payments and you will be buying the necessities of life, for a while, at least.

    After all, gardens take a few months to start yielding, and home raised chickens and pigs are expensive unless you can raise some of their feed.

    That being said, where would you like to LIVE? DH and I would have preffered either California or the Ozark mountains, but the one has land that we will NEVER be able to afford, and the other has little work available.

    So, we settled in the midwest, where the land is handsome, the people are practical, the growing season is REASONABLY long, the summers are only unbearable for a month or so, the land is reasonable affordable, and - best of all- there are jobs available! :eek:

    It would not be our FIRST choice, but life has been very good, here.

    Meanwhile, I believe that Colorado is very fine for raising frost tolerant plants like cabbages, kale, lettuce, peas, and so forth. Also, unless you live in a big city, aren't you convenient to hunting and fishing grounds? You CAN get a little practice in while you consider things. :cool: Who knows, you might decide to stay in the rockies in SPITE of the possibility of year-round frosts. Stranger things have happened. :p
  8. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I live in east-central Alabama (an hour south of anniston! *gulp*!) It's beautiful land with plentiful water and a long growing season. It's generally agreed that the soil isn't as good as that in, say, Iowa. Lots of rocks, too, but it's not bad enough to complain about. Although there is pollution in the cities, our wells and springs have tested quite pure. It's true that we can be guilty of shunning outsiders. (But I think many places with small populations share this fault.) The "true" Southerners, will be very polite and welcoming, but you'll remain a "visitor" for a good number of years nonetheless.

    digression on this particular cultural trait: It doesn't have to be a bad thing if you realize it in advance. As a Southern girl visiting a midwestern friend at her home for the first time, I was horrified to discover that they really *did* expect me to make myself completely at home. No acknowledgement of the fact that this place would seem strange to me, or gentle catering to my possible feelings of displacement. I was actually expected to go into her mother's kitchen and make my own breakfast every morning! Conversely, when my cousin's fiance (from Michigan) came to visit the family for the first time, he offended everyone by trying too hard to jump right in and "be one of the gang." We wanted the priviledge of introducing him to our way of life, and we expected him to demonstrate an appropriate respect for it by not assuming a forward attitude. In short, what can seem to be a snobish disregard toward newcomers may in fact be the result of a thoughtful effort to allow newcomers a period of adjustment before expecting them to understand and join in a culture wrought with subtleties. That said, it's true that we sometimes carry it too far.

    Sedition has some excellent points. That's not to say that they will all apply to you, but you should evaluate them to determine their relevance. For example, it may be that you *enjoy* living near people who are very unlike yourself. Either way, it's good to consider and take it into account.
  9. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    I didnt say we didnt let foreigners in. We just watch em real close for a good while. :haha:

    Plus our prorated state budget and the surrounding states getting gambling funding while our state stands on outdated anti gambling values is draining our local economies in addition to the recent plant layoffs. New jobs now are just starting to come back to the Huntsville area. And dont forget how our govenor is raising property taxes without a vote by requiring yearly property reappraisals. My property tax went up 30 percent this last year and will possibly double by 2007. Right now Alabama is below where Mississippi was before legalizing gambling and in the near future our local general economy will probably get worse instead of better.

    Tennessee has the gambing now but it will take a few years for their economy to really experience the full benifit and jobs are still tight there.

    A "homesteader type" might find much more appealing environments in other areas of the country.
  10. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

    Nov 6, 2003
    Near Callands, Virginia
    We grew up in south west Wisconsin (24yrs), moved to the Milwaukee area, then to a big farm near Racine (18 & 3yrs) - finally to Virginia... just before the record snowfall hit in December of 2000. THANK GOD!!! Got plowed in every hour, hospital on one end, police station on the other end of the county road. We left the snow shovels behind.

    Taxes in Wisconsin can eat up your income so fast, we were paying 8-10x more in Wisconsin than Virginia, for property taxes. The soil was better than Virginia, but we get about 3 months more to the growing season.

    There's definately pros and cons though, Wisconsin brats, milk & cheese tastes the BEST, but the 'reformulated' gas prices are 20 cents higher. People live at a faster pace and jobs are easy to find in Wisconsin, things in Virginia are really laid back and relaxed, nobody hurries, good paying jobs are far and few without skills. We got 11% unemployment, they got 4%. Electric power cost is 2x higher in Wisconsin (.0678 vs .0334 per KWH), but more reliable. Fishing and hunting has the same opportunities, just FREE in Virginia to landowners and their relatives. Where we live, the hills and terrain look just like south western Wisconsin.

    Jobs pay more, but the higher cost of living eats it all up - like living IN the city. We have SAVED more money for retirement, and have a higher standard of living, on lower wages than when we lived in Wisconsin.

    Virginia has a bunch of Yankee retirees (New York, New Jersey, New England area), so it's becoming a real interesting melting pot. Farm land in south western Wisconsin is in the $5k-7k per acre (according to my brothers), over here, it's $1k per acre if you buy 20 acres or more.

    They say this is the Bible Belt... then, Wisconsin is the Beer Belt. Here there's a church on every corner, over there, a bar on every corner.

    Only regret - we miss the brats, milk & cheese!
  11. rafter

    rafter Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Hi Suzie!

    We lived in the high country of Colorado for 12 years. We loved it, but you are right after a while you don't like the cold, snow, no water, rules & regulations, as well as the high cost of living.

    We moved back to Mo. We are orginally from the norhtern part of the state, and that is where our family is from, but we hate it up there. So we moved into the northern part of the Mo. Ozarks, near Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake.

    We are not from "this part of the state" and there are plenty of people that are here from other states, such as Georgia, Canada, Iowa, Florida, California, and others from Co. We never had any problems feeling like and outsider. People are friendly here! So don't judge it on what Earnest had say, he must of wandered into an isolated part that isn't like where we live.
    In fact in the whole time we lived in Co. we came away with no friends, no matter how hard we tried. People were too busy in a rat race making money mentality.

    It is really cheap, especially if you are comparing it to Co. prices. We bought 25 acres for $800 per acre, owner carry. We are in the process of finshing our house.

    We lucked out having a community water system here in fact one of the wells is in our front yard ( utility company has an easment) But, guess what? I can stand in the shower as long as I want...I can water the garden as long as I want, all for $25 a month. In Co. we hauled water the entire time we lived there.

    Yeah, its humid in the summer...but you can grow anything you want. And you don't scoop snow all winter, but we do get some. Spring comes early with bloom...not spring snows. No worry about forest fires either.

    Another plus, is in most areas...no building permits and rules that seemed to get so out of hand and prohibitive in Co.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!!
  12. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    The midwest has a lot going for it. Life has no guarantees. If you happen to have a special needs child (God forbid) that will need special care, special education, etc, you do NOT want to be in Texas or many of the other southern states. If you need to make money off homestead, really look at what is available. Friends of ours in Hot Springs tell me that unemployment is not a big problem there, but because there are no unions, etc, the pay scale is at/about subsistence level, with medical care subsidized by the state. As Sedition stated, having family nearby is important.

    But after these -digit temp readings lately, heading south sure sounds GOOD!
  13. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    Pay attention to Sedition's advice. t

    My husband and I picked land that was within a 5-6 hr drive from our home in the city. This allowed us to come on weekends and camp out. Allowed us to put in a well and septic and find a used travel trailer to put on it. We got the land paid off with the income from the city jobs, and we still were able to go to our land and dream and relax and enjoy it.

    When Dh was laid off in 2002, we were in a better position to move to our land than we would have been if we were making payments on it or it was a long way from our home in the city. It still cost us nearly $4000 to get moved and have stuff stored because you can only put so much in a travel trailer. Some people we have talked to couldn't believe that we didn't just build a simple storage building to put stuff in. But--------simple storage buildings are not animal proof and they are not climate controlled. So, if you have anything of real value, it will be ruined unless you can keep the mice from building homes in it, or the rain off of it, or the heat and cold from doing a warp job on it.

    Building a home takes time and takes money. You can harvest trees from property and do most all the work yourselves, but you can't harvest plywood or insulation or roof shingles and tar paper. You can't harvest sinks and toilets and stoves or electrical wire or solar panels or propane tanks. You still need money. You still have to have tools to build with and those cost money.

    Gardens must be planted and harvested. You can't move to land and immediately start eating. Again a good reason to live close to where your land is so that you can begin planting fruit trees and bushes and getting the soil ready for planting.

    You can't just show up with a bunch of animals. They need shelter, water, and fencing. If you live close enough, you can get this in place.

    Hope this helps.
  14. Well, the little spot I discovered on the Olympic Peninsula has got to be a best kept secret. Prices are still relatively low (I moved from Colorado). If you had to work - take the ferry over to Seattle. I work in Olympia - another big employment area. I am 25 minutes from my job - and a straight commute on a divided highway with no rush hour!

    It's green all year - a bit wet in the winter but except for this winter (there was one big snow storm) hardly any snow and very little cold - just 40's and rain all winter long. When it does snow everything shuts down so no need to worry about driving in it! Also cool in the summer - people really complain if it get's to 90 around here in the summer.

    The only thing besides all of the rain I have to tolerate is the very short dark days in the winter - but then it's light out until 10:00 PM in the summer!

    But Shhh. Don't want everyone moving this way. ;-)
  15. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    We are in southeast AZ and love it. The land is cheap, there is water and the neighbors are the best we have ever lived near. The one drawback is the employment situation but we are retired so we don't care. The big city of Tucson is about 100 miles away one way and some do commute. The weather is the best; cold in the winter and warm in the summer. You should probably live near family in case you need their help.
  16. gefozarks

    gefozarks Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2002
    Whenever this question is asked again I still have the same answer. Cheap land is cheap for a reason usually do to whatever reason the land is not real productive without some work here my homestead is more rocks than soil. The other main reason is the local employment rate. Here I have rocky soil and very low paying jobs mostly without benefits. But then again I have more reasonalbe taxes than many places and am not bothered by lots of regulations in building. The only inspection I had was the electric company wanted to check that I had a circuit breaker box and asked some questions to make sure the wiring had been done right and this was all common sense stuff the reason they do it is legal of course if they just hooked up without checking and your house burnt to the ground with a good lawyer you might make the electric company pay as they should never have provided electricity to such a system. But this was good too as if I had a question as to how something should be done I could call and get good advice on how it should be done. Land prices here are going up fairly fast but not because it sudenly got less rocks and the jobs aren't paying more it is simply many people are moving here due to the lower land costs in regards to where they are moving from. For example my nearest neighbors are from Florida, georgia, new jersey, california, new york and me from phoenix az and I do have one close neighbor from missouri.

    As has been mentioned above check the job situation before moving to a low priced area. If you can buy the land and get it ready to live on and paid for before you move to it you can have a chance to make it only with maitence charges on the lower paying jobs in an area but to move to a place with low paying jobs and trying to get set up and make the payments on a low paying job is very hard.
  17. RANDEL

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    well, i lived in new mexico from 1992-2003. i really loved it there, but problems caught up with me. growth, sprawl, water situation, regulation, etc. if u can afford land that has water, esp northern nm, it'd still be good. but there's the usual jobs problem up there unless u can find a way around it. the climate's better than farther north in the rocky mtn region, tho. but still fairly short growing season. and the WIND.

    im in the central ozarks now, south central missouri. in the process of getting onto my property, eight acres which i purchased on real estate contract nine years ago and just paid off. the land here is rich, at least compared to the desert southwest. it rains over 40 inches a year, which means u can garden at least most of the time with no irrigation. but i'm told we do get pretty good dry spells. we get just a bit of winter, compared to what u must be used to, and the roads r VERY well maintained here. firewood is cheap if u need to buy it. jobs don't seem too hard to find in my area. depends on what a person is willing and able to do of course. the lack of regulation here is VERY appealing. i just researched the regs on being a painting contractor in my county and the one big town in it (12,000 pop.) and guess what : N-O-N-E!
    if i want to retail any products i need a merchant license, otherwise zip. i imagine i still need to register with the state. not sure.

    the lack of regulation extends to land use. no zoning in my county, can live in whatever i am able to build, and septic lagoon is unregulated on any property over three acres. u'd think that in such an atmosphere trash would abound, but i have yet to see it. it's much tidier here with less junky homes than in new mexico.

    as to the attitude of the locals, it's been reserved so far, but friendly enough. most of my immediate neighbors are from somewhere else so i'm sure that contributes to it.

    i won't say this place is paradise, but to me it comes pretty close.
  18. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2002
    I'm going to jump in and suggest Ohio (or at least parts of it). We purchased property in Carroll County, OH and are really pleased. There are other counties in the area (for example Coshocton) that have reasonable priced land as well.

    The advantages are:

    1) water isn't an issue
    2) reasonable access to metropolitan markets (Cleveland and Pittsburgh are about 90 minutes, Canton is 40 minutes)
    3) by and large people are easy to get along with.
    4) There is a good choice of properties on the market because Ohio has an aging population (average age) and a fair amount of small farms that are difficult to aggregate into corporate farming.
    5) Carroll County only has a population of 28,000 so it is still bsically rural.

    The negatives are:

    1) Ohio is going through rough times for jobs
    2) The tax structure needs to be changed for the better
    3) Internet access isn't so hot. Earthlink just (finally) put a dialup pop in the county seat.
    3) can't think of any others off the top of my head.... but I'm obviously biased <G>

    If anyone is seriously interested (PM ME), there is a 3.5 acre property down the road from us that is for sale. It has a singlewide on it that isn't in bad shape. There is a detached garage and several other outbuildings. The property is mostly wooded (mature pines). Someone could selectively cut the pines and get enough logs to build a nice house without leaving the woods denuded. It also has a (roughly) 3/4 of an acre fenced pasture. Electric, well and septic of course.

    DW and I were thinking of buying it ourselves as an investment but we just signed last night for a parcel that directly adjoins our existing property and has 3 barns on it (WOOHOO!).

    There is also a 5 acre parcel (200 feet by 1000 feet deep or thereabouts) for sale with a manufactured home on it. This parcel directly adjoins our place at the back. It's all open pasture (there is a row of trees/windbreak along the western edge but thatis on the neighboring property).

    My interest? Getting good homesteading type neighbors in the area!

  19. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 19, 2003
    Bel Aire, KS
    May I suggest East Texas? Central is getting too expensive...but depends in Northern Texas. Panhandle has too much cold weather (for me), West Texas is too dry plus trees are really really scrubby and short there! Can't say much about South Texas because I've been there very rarely. I highly prefer E. Texas but the main problem is the lack of jobs...I wouldn't recommend Houston though. Too many gangbangers. I wonder why people gripe about the heat and humidity! I'm totally used to it since I grew up around here. You won't encounter humidity in West Texas or the Panhandle.

  20. Susie13

    Susie13 Guest

    Dear unregisted Olympia guy,

    We have been wondering about the Olympic Pen. for many years but worry the moisture might cause my husband's algeries to be aggrivated. How do you feel living there? And is it a good growing season?

    Thanks for your help!